Browsing Posts published in 2020

Finders, how are you all? I hope you are managing to find some joy here and there. This COVID mess is giving us a frightful beating in many ways. The full spectrum of disaster, everything from losing loved ones to the illness to the endless tedium of isolation. Here in Nova Scotia things are relatively calm for the moment although you wouldn’t know it from the buzz of energy radiating from my house today. In this case it’s all good.

For weeks now I’ve been sitting on the news that my super agent (Hilary McMahon of Westwood Creative Artists) found a home for my novel, and in record time I might add. The whirlwind of the publishing deal coming together was breathtaking—exciting, terrifying, and completely surreal.

Naturally, on the one day my agent was trying to get my attention, I happened to have my phone off. When I opened it at suppertime there were multiple messages for me to respond quickly as a major editor at a major publishing house (let’s just call it Fancy Ass Publishers until the official announcement is made) was hoping to have chat with me about my book. Could I possibly find time the next morning to talk? I scrolled through the barren wasteland that is my calendar and told my agent I could probably squeeze her in. The upshot is that the editor loved my little book and told me she’d be sending my agent an offer later that day. Well now. I put down the phone and stood like a statue in the kitchen for I don’t know how long just waiting for what was happening to sink in.

So, fast forward to today. The ink on the contract is dry and I’m here to tell you it’s official. Now before you get all revved up about reading a second instalment of goofy adventures with Rusty (complete with excessive use of the word arse) you must know that this next book is pure fiction. While it’s not the romp you might expect from me, I assure you that it is a lovely and life-affirming tale told by a character who is far more interesting than I will ever be. She’s been living in my head for a couple of years now and it’s time for her to make a break for it.

Of course, your expectations are irrelevant because you are all contractually obligated to buy a copy (always read the fine print before you wander into some wacky lady’s website). It’ll be some time before you have to shell out a few bucks to support my lavish lifestyle, perhaps a little more than a year before it comes out as there are many, many fine books in the queue at Fancy Ass Publishing. But as they say, good things come to those who wait. I’ve waited a long time for this particular dream to come true and I have to say it feels like a very good thing indeed.

Stay safe out there, my friends. Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance and keep the faith.

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Finders, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself looking through the window of your computer screen at a world that seems to be shifting on its axis. The pandemic rages on amid horrifying displays of unbridled racism and state-sanctioned atrocity. Feckless, callous leaders stoke the flames and bask in the chaos. I can’t help but wonder what in holy hell is next.

But I have to believe that good will come from all this upheaval. This particular uprising against the racism so endemic in our society looks and feels different somehow, and I think maybe, just maybe, we’ve reached a tipping point. Could this be the beginning of a path towards actual and sustained social justice? I really hope so.

But today I’ve decided I’m all about good news. I’m wading through the mountain of garbage in search of anything to soothe the spirit. The state of Minnesota is set to begin a police overhaul. Outstanding!! New Zealand has conquered Coronavirus. Hooray! A Golden Retriever named Finley now holds the Guinness World Record for holding the most tennis balls (6) in his mouth. Three cheers for Finley!

And then there’s this: I have finally finished my book and I’m delighted to share that I’m now represented by the wonderful literary agent, Hilary McMahon of Westwood Creative Artists. The supremely talented Ms. McMahon will now do her level best to steer my novel toward publication. Yippee Yahooey!

Now, what’s your good news? Tell me everything…

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Hair to Serve

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Most days I think I’m a good person. Not like Malala/Marie Curie/Rosa Parks good. I mean more like I always vote, follow the law, tell the truth, try to think of others, helped as many kids and families as I could kind of good. I’ve always been a responsible and respectful citizen, keenly aware of the suffering of my fellow humans and my compassion toward them is strong. And years of being a psychiatrist has taught me how to suspend judgement of others. But I have to tell you this pandemic is testing me.

Yesterday I watched videos of folks strolling about my city like it was any old day of the week. Groups of six or eight people walking shoulder to shoulder, laughing, sipping coffee, blissful and oblivious. Maybe they’re just ignorant, I thought. Perhaps they hadn’t heard of the global scourge. But we all know that dog don’t hunt. It’s enough to make anyone slip into judge and jury mode. Neil and I are doing our best to think charitable, positive thoughts at all times, but it’s an uphill slog at times.

Speaking of Neil, it must be said that he too can be counted as a model citizen. His hands are now rubbed raw from washing, he leaves the house only when absolutely necessary, and his distancing is world class. The other day American writer Laura Lippman tweeted, “I see a lot of men are as confused about six feet as they are about six inches.” Not my Rusty. He knows exactly what six feet looks like: the length of his wife. He’s taken to saying everyone needs to stand at least one Bobbi apart. He finds this hilarious, I do not.

What I did find hilarious was his solution to avoiding a barber visit. Note to all: letting your hair do its own thing is not nearly as bad as being ventilated and dying alone surrounded by strangers in Hazmat gear. Don’t even think about getting your hair done now.

Anyhoo, I was sitting at my desk hard at work on my novel (almost finished, I swear) when I heard a buzzing sound coming from upstairs. The buzzing stopped and I heard Mister yell out, “Oh my Jesus. I think I’ve made a huge mistake.”

A little background. Neil and I were both long overdue for haircuts. I’d been waiting out flu season and he was just plain lazy about it. He wasn’t as far gone as I’ve seen in the past (see Exhibit A below) but his signature hair was wild enough to be driving him right round the pipe.

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I found him in the bathroom, electric clippers in hand, a pile of orange fluff at his feet. His head was a mish-mash of bald patches and stubble, round humps and tufts and tendrils poking off every which way. He looked like a lunatic. If I hadn’t been in danger of wetting myself from laughing so hard I might’ve thought to grab my phone for a photo.

His only choice was to press on and he finally got the hang of it. Now he looks like a relatively stable individual albeit an individual who guards the dressing room door at The Pussy Palace just off of Highway 13.

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I think he’s on to something. I’d say I’m two maybe three weeks away from taking the clippers to my own head. In the meantime if you’re looking for some smile-inducing advice on how to deal with your locks while on lockdown I’ve got good news. All you need to know to tame the tresses can be found right here.

 

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This Too Shall Pass

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Well my dear Finders, I have no idea how many of you have left this portal open, but if you have I hope this message finds you and yours safe and well. I can’t recall when I last posted here, a place a humour and joy and general wackiness. The days of blissfully traipsing about France seem so long ago now. Those were the days before this coronavirus, and these are the days after. I suppose it’s not a stretch to say that it’s a new world.

Rusty and I are hunkered down, heeding the advice of our public health wizards like our lives depend on it because they do. With my chronic health issues and Neil’s medication that suppresses his immune system, we’re considered “vulnerable” people. Truth be told, this supposedly novel way of living has been my reality for some time now. Hand washing and disinfecting have long been enacted in my house, so nothing new on that front. As soon as flu season ramps up, I lock the doors and settle in for the winter. Sweatpants and Netflix, books and wine. Friend time is FaceTime. Add in my many years of medical training and experience and you’d be hard pressed to find someone more prepared for a pandemic such as this one. And yet.

The trouble with doctors and other healthcare providers is we know too much. We know how this kind of scenario will play out. I’ve known this was coming, every detail of it, probably since mid-February, then watched in horror and maddening frustration as the people in charge of the world just let it happen.

And now here we are right where I knew we would be. The ever rising case tally, those big red circles blooming over world maps like drops of blood. Folks panicking in grocery stores, fist fighting over toilet paper as if survival is somehow connected to how much you wipe your arse. World leaders fumbling and melting down, laying bare their ignorance and ineptitude, fiddling while the cities burn.

I don’t worry much for myself, even with my risk level I’m privileged beyond reason and resigned to whatever comes to me. My concern is bigger and broader. The jobless, the homeless, the indigent, the people trapped in homes where violence is rampant at the best of times. The countries under siege like China, Italy, America (Christ on a cracker), the economies, the cumulative effects and losses, just the world in general. I worry that the damage to every aspect of modern life is marching toward being irreparable. It’s enough to crack the hardest of heads and hearts open.

But somewhere underneath the angst is a little bubble of hope. Hope that good things may come out of this. That this may be the crisis that finally gets people to wash their godddamn hands properly. This new-fangled 30 second soapshow is how I’ve washed my hands since I started medical school. I worked for years in the ER of children’s hospitals, ground zero of all that is infectious, and managed to escape with only one serious throat infection. I’m still waiting for my medal. If you take nothing else from this whole debacle, know that the hand washing alone will make the world a better place.

Perhaps we’ll see a new trend toward a deeper respect for science and evidence, and recognition that we are all citizens of the globe. A trend toward demanding better from our leaders and from each other. Toward thinking of the greater good and placing equal value on all lives. Pandemics come and go and this one will be no different. It’ll leave its mark on every one of us but it’s entirely possible that somehow we’ll emerge on the other side of this, battered and weary, but changed for the better. Maybe truth and reason will rule the planet and women will suddenly be in charge of everything meaning when the next crisis hits my poor sister will be spared wandering the streets of London searching in vain for the last box of tampons in England (true story). You know full well if the ladies were at the helm there’d be a shortage of Viagra long before the period shelves were empty. Unicorns and rainbows. Puppies romping through fields of wildflowers. Maybe.

But until then we have no choice but to settle in. This is a marathon not a sprint. By now you all know what to do. Wash your hands. Stay at home. No travel under any circumstances. Listen to those with a string of letters after their names and not to those spouting nonsense. Do what you can for your neighbour. Don’t sweat the small stuff like serving ice cream for dinner or plopping your kids in front of a screen for hours on end. Just do what you need to do to get through.

Here’s to better days my friends. They are coming. Of that you can be very sure. Love to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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